The Journal of endocrinology

Effects of infantile thymectomy on ovarian functions and gonadotrophin-induced ovulation in prepubertal mice: role of thymulin.

PMID 10927627


The effects of thymectomy performed on 10-day-old (Tx-10) mice on spontaneous puberty and the ovulatory response induced by gonadotrophin treatment were analysed, together with the effects of thymulin replacement from 10 days of age. Infantile thymectomy induced a delay of puberty, a decrease in serum 17beta-oestradiol concentration and a reduced total number of follicles. Injection of thymulin (12 ng/g body weight) to Tx-10 mice resulted in an earlier onset of puberty, a decrease in the weights of ovaries and uterus, and an increase in serum 17beta-oestradiol concentrations. In control and Tx-10 mice, treatment with pregnant mare serum gonadotrophin (PMSG) (5 IU) at 25 days of age resulted in ovulation and the numbers of ova shed by ovulating animals were similar. When the animals were injected with 1 IU PMSG ovulation did not occur. In Tx-10 mice, both 1 and 5 IU PMSG increased the number of follicles to values similar to those observed in the controls. In Tx-10 mice the sequential injection of PMSG (1 IU) and human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG) (3 IU) resulted in ovulation, but the number of ova shed was lower than in controls. When these animals were injected daily with thymulin, an increase in the number of ova shed and serum 17beta-oestradiol concentrations was observed. The uterine weight of Tx-10 mice was always significantly reduced in response to gonadotrophin treatment. Thymulin injection in PMSG-hCG-treated Tx-10 mice provoked a significant increase in uterine weight. The results suggest that the presence of the thymus after the neonatal period is necessary to normal ovarian development and function. The increase in gonadotrophin-induced ovarian response produced by thymulin replacement indicates that this peptide has a role in this process as one of the connecting signals between thymus and ovaries.